In the midst of an active political campaign season, many church leaders have questions about what a local church or church leader can do without potential ramifications on the local church. According to the IRS, certain activities violate the tax-exempt status of the church due to the prohibition of tax-exempt organizations from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” Guidance is provided on the role of The UMC in advocacy considering what is allowed and what is prohibited in “Is the United Methodist Church Involved in Politics?” from the Ask the UMC resource.
The Internal Revenue Service has also provided guidance to non-profit organizations describing specific situations and how the involvement of the organization might be considered political campaigning. Church leaders can use this resource to find descriptions of proposed activities with guidance from the IRS on how the activity could implicate the tax-exempt status of the church. As we move further into this political season, we encourage all church leaders to consider these examples provided by Ask The UMC and the IRS if you engage in political or educational activities concerning upcoming elections.